Reynoldsburg News

City could seek half-percent tax hike Nov. 4

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Reynoldsburg City Council's latest option for bringing in more money may be a half-percent city income tax increase on the November ballot.

Members discussed options during a finance committee meeting Monday, June 2, to address long-delayed street and other infrastructure repairs and asked City Attorney Jed Hood to draft ballot language for a half-percent income tax increase that would include a pledge to spend the bulk of the money on street repairs.

City Auditor Richard Harris said council must file the appropriate paperwork with the Franklin County Board of Elections by the first week of August if members want to proceed with a November ballot issue.

Councilman Scott Barrett said he asked Harris to research three possible options -- a 50-percent reduction in the city's income tax credit; a 1- or 2-mill property tax increase or a half-percent income tax increase.

Harris said the 50-percent tax credit reduction and the half-percent income tax hike would each bring in about $3 million a year; a 1-mill property tax levy would bring in about $700,000 per year.

Barrett said an estimate by the engineering firm EMH&T said Reynoldsburg should spend about $2.2 million per year for street repairs.

"The neat thing is that if we did the tax credit reduction, it would give us about $800,000 surplus to repair things besides the roads," he said.

Barrett and Councilman Mel Clemens seemed to lean more toward a tax credit reduction, while Barth Cotner, Leslie Kelly, Chris Long, Dan Skinner and Cornelius McGrady III were more in favor of asking for the half-percent income tax increase.

"I thought about this and I have been all for the tax credit reduction, but I could go for the half-percent income tax hike," Clemens said. "I don't think the property tax would pass. I think whatever happens, we need $1 million or more per year for capital improvement."

Residents have voted down the city's last four attempts to raise Reynoldsburg's income tax.

Last November's failed attempt would have raised the rate from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent.

Harris said residents might have to know what is at stake before they finally approve a tax issue.

"Schools take sports or busing away to get voters' attention," he said. "You've tried four times to increase taxes and they said no. You don't have their attention yet."

Resident Carrie Acosta agreed. She suggested the city use social media more often to reach out to voters.

Resident Debby Peck said it "amazed" her that some people who work outside Reynoldsburg do not realize to whom they are paying their income taxes.

"I would like to see the half-percent income tax increase go on the ballot and we need to try to educate people again," she said.

Councilwoman Kelly said she favors the ballot issue over the tax credit reduction. She and Long both said it's important that the city be clear and specific about how the money would be spent.

"People I spoke to before the November election said the 1-percent income tax increase was too high and that we were too vague on what we were going to do with the money," council President Doug Joseph said.

Council's next regular meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday, June 9, at the Municipal Building, 7232 E. Main St.

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